Irrigation Lessons From Harvey

    When Hurricane Harvey tore through the states of Texas and Louisiana last August, it left behind an unimaginable trail of destruction affecting nearly 13 million people and marked a new record for the heaviest rainfall for a storm in the continental U.S.   For those of us in the real estate industry, it was a reminder that we can’t control weather patterns but we can learn from this experience to become better stewards of our resources. 

    Irrigation water management is one area that with proper foresight and use of new technology we can ensure that properties are better prepared to handle severe weather incidents and that devastating outcomes are less costly.  Irrigation water management may seem like a relatively small line item in your budget, but it can save literally tens of thousands of dollars to your bottom line, especially when weather events threaten your real estate asset. 

    Thanks to Harvey, here are a few day-to-day lessons worth remembering when it comes to water management on your property:

    Smart Water Technology Matters.  You upgrade your cell phone, so why wouldn’t you invest in irrigation management technology?  Manufacturers are constantly improving technology to improve efficiency.  The result is that new smart water controllers are programmed to sense watering needs based on weather, location, topography and climate. 

    Two- Way Communication is Key.  Smart phones and electronic devices provide instant access and interface in managing irrigation water issues.  As an example, during Hurricane Harvey, it became obvious to one of our clients that a controller on her property was flooded.  Because we were alerted to the issue in real time, we were able to fix the problem immediately, ensuring that a bad situation didn’t get worse.

    Programming, Maintenance and Monitoring Should Be Easy.  If you find that programming a water controller or making adjustments is too complicated or confusing, you should think twice about the equipment you have on your property. Maintenance should be simple and monitoring on a set schedule, with frequent reporting. 

    Consider Retrofitting.  Your current equipment may not need to be replaced; instead work with a professional water management services company to see if your existing technology can be retrofitted. It won’t work for everyone, but it’s certainly worth asking about.

    Big Data is Key.  Ask yourself how often someone is looking at the data from your water controller. Be aware of what weather data is being used to provide the information most helpful to you. And, most importantly, make sure you trust who is analyzing the data. Water bills can go haywire pretty quickly if data is misinterpreted. Find an irrigation expert to help guide you.

    Understand The ROI of  Smarter Irrigation.  We all know water is a precious commodity. It will continue to become more scarce and more expensive as the population grows. But if you take the time to analyze how your property gets the right amount of water at the right time in the right places, you can actually save substantial dollars. 

    Hurricane Harvey was a weather event that no one could truly expect or prepare for.  However, the storm was a reminder that there’s much we can control as stewards of our properties day-in and day-out. Managing irrigation water may seem to play a small part, but when it comes to protecting real estate assets and ensuring that residents and occupants have a welcoming, green environment, irrigation management actually can have a significant role in determining successful outcomes.  

    Leslie Keen is the Executive Director of the Houston Gulf Coast Irrigation Association and Director of Operations for WaterLogic.  She has spent much of her adult life marrying her love of the natural world with her business expertise.  In the landscape and irrigation business for more than 18 years, she has held positions ranging from retail plant nursery manager to wholesale plant growing to irrigation water management specialist.  Early in her career she worked in the Construction and Steel industries.  

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